Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough Cathedral is a monastic cathedral in Cambridgeshire, England. The Norman cathedral is dedicated to Saints Peter, Paul and Andrew and is unusual among medieval cathedrals in Great Britain because of its triple front (dominated by the statues of the three saints) and overall asymmetrical appearance.

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History of Peterborough Cathedral

The current Anglican cathedral stands on the site of a monastic church founded by King Peada of Mercia in 655. The monastic settlement was destroyed by Vikings in 870, but was revived in 972 by Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury. The town surrounding the abbey was eventually named Peterburgh after the saint to whom the abbey was dedicated.

Although damaged during the struggle between the Norman invaders and local folk-hero, Hereward the Wake, the church was repaired, and continued to thrive until destroyed by fire in 1116.

This event necessitated the building of a new church, which took a total of 120 years to complete, and was consecrated in 1238.

The Norman tower was rebuilt in the Decorated Gothic style in about 1350, and the Perpendicular fan vaulting was added between 1496 and 1508. In 1541, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the church survived by being selected as the cathedral of the new diocese of Peterborough.

The former English queen Catherine of Aragon was buried in the cathedral's cemetery in 1536. In 1587, the body of Mary Queen of Scots was also buried here, but was later removed to Westminster Abbey on the orders of her son, King James I of England.

The cathedral was vandalized during the English Civil War. Almost all the stained glass was destroyed, and the altar and reredos were demolished, as were the cloisters and Lady Chapel. Some of the damage was repaired during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1883, extensive restoration work began, with the interior pillars, the choir and the west front being completely rebuilt.

In the 1960s new figures were added to the West Front and in the 1970s the spectacular hanging cross was added to the nave. Since a disastrous fire in November 2001 a massive cleaning and restoration program has been undertaken.

What to See at Peterborough Cathedral

Inside Peterborough Cathedral is an excellent permanent exhibition on the history of the cathedral and the daily life of a Benedictine monk. There are also scale models showing how the cathedral was constructed.

The grave of Catherine of Aragon can still be seen, and is still honored by visitors, who decorate the tomb with flowers and pomegranates (her symbol). The tomb proclaims her "Katharine, Queen of England," a title she was denied at the time of her death.

The cathedral's official website suggests the following six highlights for visitors with limited time:

Quick Facts on Peterborough Cathedral

Site Information
Names:Peterborough Cathedral
Country:England
Categories:cathedrals; Grade I listed buildings
Styles:Early English style; Anglo-Norman
Dates:1118-1238
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:52.572620° N, 0.239639° W
Address:Peterborough, England
Lodging:View hotels near Peterborough Cathedral
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Personal visit (September 10, 2007)
  2. Peterborough Cathedral – official website

More Information

© Adrian Fletcher
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes
© Holly Hayes

Map of Peterborough Cathedral

Below is a location map and aerial view of Peterborough Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.